REWRITING THE DICTIONARY – PROFESSIONAL VS SEMI-PROFESSIONAL IN THE ARTS

poetry takeaway yaffa phillips

by Carmina Masoliver

When I was asked by a friend to think about the difference between being a professional artist and a semi-professional artist with regards to my own practice as a writer and a poet, the distinction between the two seemed – to quote author Daniel Piper – arbitrary and unnecessary. The word semi-professional is not something that has been in my vocabulary, because my ideas of professionalism go beyond the dictionary definition of these two words.

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TIME & TIDE: STORIES AND POEMS FROM SOLSTICE SHORTS FESTIVAL 2019

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by Carmina Masoliver

The Solstice Shorts Festival is an international festival held on 21st December of each year, and includes short stories, poems and songs. In 2019, it was held in seven port towns across four different countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Portugal). The theme was ‘Time and Tide’, with performers sharing work about making a living on or beside the water, and making new lives over the water. Arachne Press funded the event, along with 50 crowd funders, Arts Council England, Aberdeenshire Council, and Literature Wales. The press is directed by Cherry Potts, who edits/co-edits all the anthology. She also runs the festival connected with this book, and is one example of just one of the independent feminist ventures that makes up the live literature scene in the UK.

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A DRESS BY EMMA LEE – REVIEW

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by Carmina Masoliver

Clothing, fashion, and perhaps particularly dresses, are often seen as insignificant. Arguably disregarded due to its feminine associations, any artistry is often deemed lesser than other forms of art and creation. With The Significance of a Dress (Arachne Press, 2020), Emma Lee explores the female voice through various characters’ stories, taking the reader from refugee camps in Iraq to suffragettes in Britain. Whilst it is often presumed that poetry is autobiographical, perhaps Lee’s experience as a short story writer informs her desire to take on others’ voices, including those who may be voiceless in order to present the personal as political.

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VAULT FESTIVAL 2020 – TOP FIVE SHOWS

by Carmina Masoliver

I previously wrote about Madame Ovary, which set the bar for me when it came to deciding my top shows from this year’s VAULT Festival. Aside from this, here are five more shows that hit the bar for me.

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VAULT FESTIVAL: MADAME OVARY

By Carmina Masoliver

tw: mentions of terminal illness

It’s that time of year again, and we’re now coming towards the end of it. VAULT Festival, now in its eight year, has opened up the tunnels of Leake Street and surrounding areas to bring even more shows than ever before.

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RUPI KAUR – POET OF THE DECADE?

by Carmina Masoliver

Naming one poet as the ‘poet of the decade’, or writing lists of poets to watch, can arguably be an arbitrary act. But, the naming does inevitably draw more interest to those poets as we consume the easily digestible content and assume that it must have some bearing on those who made it. As a poet myself, I have seen many lists (looking for my own name as well as potential feature acts for my show, She Grrrowls), and most of these lists do offer some great poets to watch. However, the number of people considering poetry professionally is inevitably growing, and there are always going to be extremely talented poets that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

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THE VAGINA MUSEUM REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The mission to create the Vagina Museum began two years ago, when its founder Florence Schechter stumbled upon the Icelandic Phallological Museum, dedicated to the penis, yet could see no equivalent for the vagina or vulva. It’s thanks to crowdfunding and support from Camden Council that the museum now stands amongst the market,  blending in discreetly with its surroundings, its doors wide open and welcoming. There is a fantastic shop to explore alongside the museum itself, where you will find vulva badges, cards, accessories and more. 

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KISS MY GENDERS REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The existence of the gender spectrum beyond the simple male/female binary is now more visible in mainstream media and popular culture than ever before. And whilst life for non-binary and trans folks is still difficult, even dangerous, there seems to be more cultural awareness (if not sensitivity) about various trans identities within cis circles. In the Hayward Gallery’s Kiss My Genders exhibition, this visibility of the gender spectrum takes centre stage.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PART 2

by Carmina Masoliver

trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault, mentions of transphobia

My second week at Edinburgh Fringe Festival offered a selection of shows more overtly dealing with Feminist themes. This selection ranged from the role that gender has to play in our experience of the dating world in the digital age, an exploration of the ‘pretty privilege’ set against trans experiences, to an examination of celebrities as female role models.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019 – PT 1

edinburgh fringe 2019

by Carmina Masoliver

Edinburgh Fringe festival seems to get bigger and bigger each year; there are hundreds of shows to choose from and the densely-packed programme can be difficult to decipher. Here we have briefly reviewed three distinct shows from the 2019 edition, dealing with the mind, the body, sexuality, relationships and gender.

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DON’T GET FIRED – ‘CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE’ GENRE ENTERS SOCIAL MEDIA

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by Carmina Masoliver

When I was told by fellow poet and She Grrrowls team member Ibizo Lami that there was a ‘choose your own adventure’ (CYOA) game-cum-story starring Beyoncé on Twitter, I felt compelled to write about it. 

If you haven’t heard of it already (currently at 98.2K retweets and 256.7 likes), it works by imagining you are Beyoncé’s assistant for the day. Your goal: don’t get fired. Complete with photographs and gifs, each choice you make leads to another thread. Depending on your choice, you either face the termination of your contract or you are allowed to continue the game.

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THE LAST WORD FESTIVAL 2019 REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

The Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse, Camden, merges various art forms that all centre on the spoken word – in some cases fusing with music, circus and cabaret. Established artists feature in the festival alongside younger, emerging artists; The Roundhouse supports 18 to 25-year-olds starting out in spoken word poetry (amongst other things) through the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, of which I was a member. Each show I see, I bump into fellow poets, for example, chatting to Toby Campion, we realise we both came through the Roundhouse programme.

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AD LIBIDO BY FRAN BUSHE REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

Female sexual dysfunction is a topic rarely spoken about, and according to Fran Bushe’s show Ad Libido, it’s also something that is light years away in terms of medical research when compared with male sexual dysfunction. Hello patriarchy! This show presents us with projected images of what “solutions” she has come across to dealing with pain during sex, all of which are both hilarious and hideous at once. It is clear that this is not the same for male sexual issues, where there are actual solutions which are often available to buy over the counter.

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IN SEARCH OF EQUILIBRIUM BY THERESA LOLA

By Carmina Masoliver

One of the first things that strikes me about Lola’s debut poetry collection is the innovative use of form and the consideration of how text and space are on the page. The subject matter is essentially natural – life and death – yet, the poems are experimental and bring in cultural elements such as technological language and hip hop references, as well as religious allusions.

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SENSE ME – ANNUM SALMAN REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

Sense Me, by Annum Salman, arrives in a beautiful box filled with paper hearts, shredded tissue paper and a plastic blue quill-style pen. I received it after seeing her feature at That’s What She Said, a spoken word night in London.  The book and the box are perfect for Instagram, yet I didn’t expect to see a ‘social media etiquette’ flyer inside, which strikes me as a clever touch necessary for a self-published text.

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VAULT FESTIVAL REVIEW – PART 1

by Carmina Masoliver

Previously, I wrote about five feminist picks at Vault Festival – an eight-week long festival full of theatre, comedy, spoken word, and more, held in and around The Vaults in London Waterloo. Now that we’re into the first few weeks of the festival, there have been more feminist surprises along the way to add to the list.

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VAULT FESTIVAL – TOP FEMINIST PICKS 2019

by Carmina Masoliver

Vault Festival, consisting of eight weeks of London-based arts and entertainment shows, had opened again last week  and this year I’ve decided to go all out. I’ve got a spreadsheet of the seventeen shows I’ve narrowed it down to seeing after scouring the programme, and a membership card to get discounts on the food and drink I’ll undoubtedly be consuming throughout the next few months. So far, I have seen two shows and tried the ‘Spanish’ dish from the EU-inspired menu – deliciously sweet yet spicy chorizo. I’d recommend both the food and the shows: Isa Bonachera’s The Great Emptiness; a one-woman comedy about her love of space, and Snapper Theatre’s Thomas; a play centered around two cousins and ideas of masculinity and neurodivergence. As the festival kicks off, I’m going to focus here on five of my top feminist picks that I’m looking forward to seeing.

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SOLTERA CODICIADA REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

When I first saw Soltera Codiciada advertised on Netflix, its title was translated into English from Spanish as ‘How to Get Over a Break-Up’. The title drew me in for personal reasons, having had my long-term relationship end last year.  The plot revolves around a heartbroken ad copywriter who begins blogging about her life as a single woman, whose writing pastime turns into a huge success. The English title bears little resemblance to the Spanish title, for which it was difficult to find a direct translation. A Peruvian comedy from Bruno Ascenzo and Joanna Lombardi, the original title shares the same name with the protagonist’s blog and when I asked around, the most likely meaning was as a positive description of a single woman. Infused with the spirit of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies, it is a film that allows us to laugh at the tragedy of lost love.

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UNA MUJER FANTÁSTICA REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

Recently I began to attend Spanish and salsa lessons at Battersea Spanish, where I got the opportunity to engage in their social programme, open to everyone. I particularly enjoy the film nights, which allow you to experience cuisine and movies from the country of origin. On this occasion, we ate Chilean food as the film was Una Mujer Fantástica, set in the capital, Santiago. Released in 2017, written and directed by Sebastián Lelio, the plot centres around Marina, a transgender woman who works as both a singer and a waitress. It is a tale of love and grief, underpinned by her experiences as a transgender woman and the transphobia she faces.

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GRLWOOD – DADDY REVIEW

by Carmina Masoliver

I don’t know about you, but sometimes there is nothing like cathartic screaming vocals to accompany me as I walk through busy city streets. For this reason, I’ve spent the past few weeks with GRLwood’s ‘scream-pop’ album ‘Daddy’ on repeat. The title itself seems to allude to dom men in sexual relationships, which is explored in the track ‘I’m Yr Dad’. Here, the lead singer takes on this dominant role, repeating the track title as drum beats build up and guitars join in until it becomes a scream. Fronted by Louisville’s guitarist Rej Forester and drummer Karen Ledford, who have described themselves as ‘2 angry lesbian genderfuck feminists’, the song explores ideas that poet Lisa Luxx expressed in an article for Slutever recently in terms of the use of strap-ons in queer relationships, as though ‘the general consensus is that a cis woman’s body is incomplete as a sexual tool, and dick is needed because dick represents sex.’

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2018 – PT 3

By Carmina Masoliver

The third and final instalment of a series of short summaries of a wide variety of performances, from the comedic to the dramatic to the bizarre, direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Each entry is preceded by the title of the work in question, and the venue(s) at which it is being performed as part of the Fringe.

Content warning: Mentions of racism, sexual assault.

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EDINBURGH FRINGE 2018 – PT 2

By Carmina Masoliver

The second instalment of a series of short summaries of a wide variety of performances, from the comedic to the dramatic to the bizarre, direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Each entry is preceded by the title of the work in question, and the venue(s) at which it is being performed as part of the Fringe.

Content warning: mentions eating disorders, sexual assault, domestic abuse, childhood trauma.

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SEX & LOVE & ROCK & ROLL: TONY WALSH ON WOMEN

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: mentions harassment, domestic violence

When I first saw Tony Walsh, aka longfella, it was as a feature act at the Genesis Poetry Slam in Whitechapel. I remember being struck by a line about how growing breasts being something that labels some people ‘women’. This was a revelation to me, and yet something that I could identify with as a cis-gender woman reflecting on adolescence; it felt profound that a man could understand this experience in a way that made me feel understood in a way I hadn’t yet articulated myself.

When I later read what I assumed to be these same lines in Sex & Love & Rock&Roll, they didn’t strike me in quite the same way, as they offered something different. In ‘Start All the Clocks’, Walsh repeats ‘tell me how it feels’, as he asks of the readers

‘…tell me how it feels when you start to grow breasts
When Mother Nature writes ‘woman’ across a girl’s chest.’

It is in these lines that mean that Walsh is not solely a poet to hear on stage, but also one to read on the page, where you have the time to reflect and think.Continue Reading

REVIEW: SPAIN’S GREAT UNTRANSLATED, EDITED BY J. APARICIO, A. MAJOR & M. MONMANY

by Carmina Masoliver

I was given this book shortly after its publication in 2013 by mi abuelito, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, whose work is featured in the anthology of short stories, memoirs and poems. Currently living in Spain, it felt like a good time to read the whole book. The collection showcases twelve contemporary writers, in both Spanish and English translation, and definitely has a modern, experimental feel to it. The use of first person throughout blends the line between truth and fiction, and despite often feeling personal, there is always a sense of the political throughout. Continue Reading

REVIEW: GRITO DE MUJER FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT

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by Carmina Masoliver

Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.

I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.Continue Reading

CIVIL WAR

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by Carmina Masoliver

He rolls the ‘r’ in my name, and the resentment I’ve felt fades,
resentment for the absence of mi abuelito, and the language
my tongue stumbles over, yet hungers for like tortilla Española.

They greased their rifles with olive oil, with Vaseline, with cold cream, with bacon-fat:¹
an opera, with the occasional death.²Continue Reading

CROMER, 2013

by Carmina Masoliver

The rush of the lapping waves of the sea,
the sound of shells, smell of salt, is where,
the humdrum left behind, I can just be.
The horizon before me, I can stare,
watch where the sea meets sky and then it leaves –
nowhere I’d rather be than standing there.Continue Reading

THE HOURGLASS

by Carmina Masoliver

 

grains of sand pass like biology
my body ticking like a heart
my love straining like teaContinue Reading

COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES

by Carmina Masoliver

we grew up on html

love was a cartoon heart
pink or red
we dissected some cold slab of meat in science labs

and with that, every Disney film turned dirty
we would publicise our most private thoughts
kidding ourselves it was poetry
when it was catharsis at bestContinue Reading